A Crowded Sabbath
A medieval rabbi said, “The world which was created in six days was a world without a soul. It was on the seventh day that the world was given a soul. That is why it is written, ‘and on the seventh day He rested vayinnafash (Exod. 31:17); nefesh means soul.’ ” 
Eleven Jewish people were murdered on October 29 while praying on the Sabbath. Sabbath is something that is often misunderstood in our time and place. It’s the day Chick-fil-A is closed. It is the day “of rest,” so we can take a nap and not feel guilty about it. But these 11 understood the true meaning of Sabbath: To be still to experience the soul of the universe, a holiness in the quiet of time.
Six days a week the universe and humanity within it think a lot. We calculate, manipulate, propagandize, and strategize. Six days a week we feel. Our ire rises at injustice, fear consumes, passions rage. Six days a week our bodies move at an exhausting rate, and as we interact with others in the whirlwind, our fists clench, our jaws lock, our shoulders stiffen.
But on the seventh day, these 11 chose to be still to experience the forgotten soul of the universe. Sabbath is when our fists unclench and our shoulders soften. Fear dissipates, and our minds open. This renewed posture melts into place against all worldly resistance as we listen to souls breathe in stillness. And in this holy time, when the noise stops and strategy subsides, humanity can experience the soul in the universe and in others.
Six days a week time is our enemy, but Sabbath is the sanctity of time. Abraham Heschel said, “People own space, but they share time.”  So when people pause to experience Sabbath they enter into the sacredness of nothing but quiet time, and therefore enter into something shared.
They enter into community.
The humanizing rhythm of Sabbath is the legacy these 11 souls leave us. When the mind, heart, and body run amuck to drown out the soul, may we be still to experience the soul of the universe, to enter into the quietness of time that we all share. For in this seventh season a quiet acknowledgement is forced to our attention: we are souls in common. We are community. The stillness guides our attention “from the world of creation to the creation of the world,” and in this mystery violence has no space, and compassion tick-tocks forward with the perseverance of the rising sun. 
If we learn anything from the murder of these 11—a murder that neither the Christian Scriptures nor our Christ condone in any way—we learn the necessity of the community building discipline of holy rest.
 Rabbi Solomon ben Abraham Adret of Barcelona (1235-1310) in En Ya’akob Taanit 27b.
 Heschel, Abraham. The Sabbath. NY: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1951.